THE Salvation Army's plans to open a training centre in Ringwood have raised the ire of nearby residents, who fear the busy centre will be just too close for comfort.
In August last year, the Salvation Army confirmed it had purchased the land currently occupied by prestigious private school Tintern's boys' campus, Southwood Boys Grammar School, in Maidstone Street.
A permit application has been lodged with Maroondah Council to build a training college for future Salvation Army officers when it takes over the site at the end of this year. Tintern sold the campus and will relocate its male students to the main Alexandra Road campus, as part of the school's plan to merge into a co-ed campus.
The application seeks to demolish one of the school buildings and build an additional three on the site, with 40 single and 12 double apartments.
But the Maidstone Street Action Group fears the centre will create traffic and parking congestion, and that it could be used "for other purposes" than just a training college, such as drug rehabilitation rooms.
Spokesman for the Maidstone Street Action Group Ross Coates said the group was disappointed the only time to object to the facility was a 12-day period in December.
"Most, if not all, residents feel this was an attempt to sneak the approval through just prior to the busy pre-Christmas period.
"I'd estimate there's been between 20 and 30 public objections sent to council."
He said the group would like to see some "concessions" from the original plans.
"We haven't received any alternative layouts as yet," he said.
Maroondah director of city development Phil Turner confirmed that 19 objections have been received so far, and that a community consultation would likely be held in February.
Media relations director at Salvation Army Dr Bruce Redman said he could understand the uncertainty, although he assured Maidstone Street residents there was nothing to worry about.
"People are always going to be worried about changes in their area and what that brings," he said. "We'll have a maximum of 100 people on site, so there will be no need for on-street parking."